Lithium or AGM


New Member
Jan 9, 2024
Hello all
Earlier this year I purchased a 2004 Lance 835 TC for a specific reason, A trip to Alaska from Minnesota. The AGM battery is 7 yrs old so I'm planning on replacing it, after doing some research I'm just not sure the expense of changing everything over to work with lithium is worth it or if maybe i should just go with a quality AGM ?
Normally we don't do a lot of boondocking however going to Alaska we might need to, not sure for how long at any one time so hoping to recharge while driving ?
3 way refrigerator so planning on running on LP when parked, so 12 volt would be for lights and fan on heater if needed at night.
Time of year for Alaska trip would be June/ July.
Hard to say. It seems most folks here (and that is a very broad generalization) are not "glampers" so our power usage is much like yours. Mine is different, as I do use an induction cooktop and need more power than I already have (200AH Lithium). Doing the swap to Lithium properly will involve a fair bit of money and time if you do the work yourself.

If it were me, I'd go Lithium, and go big. BUT, this is about you and your needs. So, first things first, you need to determine your needs. To that end, I'd get a quality true solar deep cycle battery (not a marine/dual use) battery (Trojan comes to mind) AND a true state of charge (SOC) battery monitor with a shunt, such as the Victron 712 BMV or their Smart Shunt.

Once you understand your usage patterns it is much easier to spec out a system that will meet your needs.
Well, the lithium will give you better performance, but as you note… at a cost. My 2¢ is to go with a quality AGM unless you intend to have that camper for a long time. Maybe take a portable solar panel, or a small generator if you need. I’m still running AGMs in my trailer and camper, no complaints (well, except for how heavy they are).

If your lights are still incandescents, think about replacing with LED bulbs to reduce current draw.
I think Vic's advice is sound.

First assess your actual needs - that is how much power does your camper consume over a typical day? Then determine how often do you use the camper and how long your trips last (min, max and average). Also factor in what seasons you use it - year around, Summer only, etc? You will likely need more power in Winter and the shoulder seasons than in summer.

The point of this is to determine typical use and maximum use based on trips and time of year. Once you have a good handle on that you can size your system.

We have two Lifeline GPL-4CT AGM 6v 220Ah batteries in our FWC Keystone camper which provide 110 Ah of usable power before recharging is needed. They are very rarely drawn down below 70% of full charge. They are still quite healthy after nearly 7 years (bought new in 2017).

We have a single 360W LG Solar Panel on the roof of our camper and a Victron 100/30 Blue Solar Charger along with a BVM 712 shunt based Battery Monitor. We also have the OEM Iota DLS-30 with an IQ-4 dongle for shore power and (if needed) power from the truck. It turns out that the solar system provides enough power that I don't need to connect the camper electrical to the truck. We do use shore power when we camp in regular campgrounds and that is where the IQ-4 dongle comes in to make sure the battery is being charged appropriately.

We have been to Alaska twice since this system went in. Both trips were on the order of 3 months. with about 2/3 of that time camping in the camper. We have also done several multi- to many week camping trips all over the lower US Western states over the intervening years.

Conclusion is that AGMs work fine and can last a long time (more than 8 - 10 years) if you do the following:
1) Rarely or ever discharge below 50%
2) Always FULLY recharge after discharging - every day
3) Make sure your charger settings are correct for the particular brand and model of battery so that you neith overcharge or undercharge it.

Cons - They are heavy and take up space. Also they must be kept fully charged and in float when not being used or they will degrade.

I have been using a Universal Power Group 12V 100Ah Solar Wind AGM SLA DEEP Cycle VRLA Battery in my boat and another in my cargo trailer (powers a winch and lights) since 2018. So far so good. The boat battery is on solar (Victron charger and battery monitor) the trailer is not.

An advantage is that unlike AGM and other lead acid batteries, Lithium batteries do not degrade if they are stored in a partially charged state. They are more expensive than a pair of good quality 6v AGM batteries but not by a lot these days. However, there are issues in cold environments relative to charging if they are colder than 32 deg F so that needs to be understood and considered relative to your particular usage.

If you do not already have a good quality (Victron or equivalent) charging system and battery monitor that are compatible with Lithium batteries then you will be faced with that expense on top of the cost of the Lithium batteries. If you are not camping a lot then maybe save the dollars for other things since the AGM batteries can be used a long time if you take care of them (don't deeply discharge them on a regular basis and always fully recharge them after discharging).

Bottom line is

1) If you do not already have a good shunt based battery monitor installed then install one. You can use it to fairly accurately determine how much power each device in your camper consumes and then you can add it all up and guess about how much more or less the device is used in any particular season (the heater for example)

2) There is an argument for continuing to use deep cycle AGM batteries and there is an argument for going to Lithium. The decision is best based on understanding your actual use, frequency of use and your ability to recharge the batteries (as appropriate to the particular type) relative to the cost for doing so.

I hope this information is helpful

One other thing to consider... how long will you keep this rig? All the reasons above are spot on but if you aren't going to keep this rig for a few years, the cost of the LifePO4 probably isn't worth it.
For us amg battery. We boondock a lot ,however we don't used all those extra gadgets other people use. So amg works well
When I had a hardside camper (Bigfoot) I had a well-functioning absorption fridge, led bulbs, and had zero concerns about electrical power with 100W solar and 75AH of lead acid batteries.

My current camper (4WC) has a compressor fridge, and that uses somewhere like 80-95% of my total electrical use. That drives the need for more solar and much more AH capacity of batteries.

In 25 years I can count on one finger the number of times I've camper with electrical plug available.

If I had that Bigfoot still I'd probably use an inexpensive 100AH AGM and never worry about electricity.
We will stick to the AGM batteries. Entering our 5th year with our Hawk, we have had no issues charging our two phones, two sets of ear buds and my wife's android tablet in addition to running interior led lights, a 130 liter two-way fridge, forced air furnace, water pump, CO detector and fantastic fan. Powered by one 160W solar panel charging two 12v deep cycle batteries. Never yet hooked up to shore power.

Don't think lithium will be needed.
I'm sure someone else has already pointed this out, But I would say, since you are going to Alaska get the AGM. Lithium batteries hate cold temps. You would need to install a switch to remove all charge sources like solar, generator shore etc. if the temp falls below 30 degrees. Granted, you could buy Lithium batteries the either have an automatic cut off switch or a heater. The heater would drain the battery and the auto cut off switch would prevent any charging so long term in the cold would drain your batteries. I've had both and on my previous FWC, I had 2 100 amp AGMs and a 100 watt solar and a compressor fridge with no issues even in the snow. But my fridge was the biggest draw.

On my class B van, I have 200 amps of Lithium and 200 watts of solar. In that case I love the Lithium but I not only have a larger compressor fridge, but a 2400 wat invertor to power my Microwave, Induction cooktop, TV, Soundbar etc. so having the more power Lithium provides is much appreciated. But I also try to avoid freezing temps, mainly because all my storage tanks are below the van exposed to the elements, And I don't stress about short term external temps, because I would have the furnace on and the batteries are in the van
BobM said:
The heater would drain the battery and the auto cut off switch would prevent any charging so long term in the cold would drain your batteries.
Our SOK battery with heater gets it energy from the charger, not the battery. I found out it needs 4.5 amps though, so our lone 100W solar panel isn't enough to heat the battery. Its BMS won't let it charge below 32F, and then it has to rise to 41F before it'll start charging.
My general rule is: 'if a system works well I need a good reason to change it'.
I live in Minnesota too and do some extended winter camping so FLA works well.

BTW: Freezing temps in June/July in Alaska is very rare (rain and bugs is not).
rubberlegs said:
Our SOK battery with heater gets it energy from the charger, not the battery. I found out it needs 4.5 amps though, so our lone 100W solar panel isn't enough to heat the battery. Its BMS won't let it charge below 32F, and then it has to rise to 41F before it'll start charging.
Mine only heats when there's a charge source as well, but doesn't draw that many amps. Once charging is underway a bit the battery generates heat from that. Discharging I'd say my lithiums have performed about the same as my old AGMs.

Lithiums of course have more charge cycles in them, and often much better warranties too. And since you can use all the power often smaller. And in winter with not much sun the faster charging of lithium is really nice to have.
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